Dr Radha walks with Link Worker Simon

23/05/2024 How do Social Prescribing Link Workers support the work of GPs and take pressure off the health system?

Social prescribing can reduce pressure on the NHS, including GP appointments (Building the economic case for social prescribing), but what does this look like in practice?  

Dr Radha Modgil visited a GP Practice in Mitcham to meet link worker Simon, GP Dr Sekeram and social prescribing patient Outi, to find out more about how social prescribing works within a practice setting and understand more about the important relationship between link workers and medical practitioners to help their patients. 

Simon supports GPs like Dr Sekeram who see patients with many different social issues, such as housing, loneliness, relationships or debt. As Dr Sekeram explains, these factors can lead to physical health problems, resulting in patients visiting a GP. It is estimated that 1 in 5 GP appointments are for non-medical issues such as these, and this is where social prescribing comes in. 

As Simon explains, link workers can act like a bridge between GPs and community services: “Social prescribing doesn’t replace medicine...but it can work really well alongside other forms of intervention”. Link workers usually have more time to spend with patients to find out what matters most to them and what outcome they’re looking for.  

Many things that affect our health and wellbeing cannot be treated by doctors or medication alone – like loneliness, isolation or stress due to problems with housing or debt. Social prescribing is a way of connecting people to non-medical support to address these issues and other unmet needs.

Stories like Outi’s shows the real power of social prescribing to help people get back on their feet, and how Social Prescribing Link Workers can work alongside GPs to enhance the support a patient may get, particularly for those going through tough times or with complex needs or health issues.
Charlotte Osborn-Forde
CEO, National Academy for Social Prescribing

Further resources


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